by Annie Daly
We don’t have to tell you that eating tons of sugary nonsense is going to make you gain weight. You know this. But what you may not know is that hanging out with Negative Nancys may have the same effect, according to a new study from Northwestern University published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.
Researchers analyzed data collected from 3,074 participants during a 10-year period. The study tracked participants’ weights, as well as their “exposure to supportive and negative relationships.” Turns out, the study subjects who reported having the most supportive relationships on a consistent basis were less likely to increase their BMI than those who surrounded themselves with toxic friends.
So why do people who make you feel down cause your weight to go up? The study authors say that it all boils down to stress: Spending lots of time around negative people often leads to developing “maladaptive health-related coping behaviors” (in other words, you may turn to food as a release or stop exercising because you’re not in a good state of mind). At the same time, surrounding yourself with positive people may buffer the effect—because when you feel like you have social support, you’re less likely to turn to food for comfort or use other unhealthy coping strategies.
Moral of the story? Ditch the negative people in your life—your waistline will be better off for it. (And if you need help ending some of your less-than-healthy relationships, read these tips for how to break up with a friend). Focus on surrounding yourself with positive people, and be sure to check out these six tips on how to make your friendships even stronger.